The Wild Adventures of Cowgirl Angel
Based on the real pretend games I played with Naomi
Chapter 1 – Something Happens
It was a Sunday afternoon like any other when I saw her for the first time. There were clouds in the sky and the sun kept trying to shine, while I just sit on the porch of my house reading a random book I picked from my bookshelf, waiting for something to happen. But when I say “waiting for something to happen” I mean what any 11-year-old would mean. I was waiting for some friend to come by or my mom to call me in for a snack. Something trivial. I would never imagine I would meet HER.
Before I even saw her, I felt a very strong itch on my nose. It was no ordinary itch, though. I could smell something in the air. I had felt that before a few times, but never as strong as this. I put the book down, closed my eyes and rubbed my nose frenetically, but the itch didn’t go away. When I opened my eyes, I nearly had a heart attack! There she was, a girl a little younger than me, leaning on a column, arms crossed, straw in her mouth, nonchalant look in her face, leather boots, belt and hat and a huge lasso hanging from her side. If I had to describe her looks in one word, I’d say she looked cool!
“Hey” she said.
I was still speechless with surprise so I just gapped at her. “Cat got your tongue?” she asked moving closer to look inside my mouth as if checking if I had really lost my tongue to a cat. “Uh, no. I just got startled. Who are you?” I asked. She stood upright and said really loud “Cowgirl Angel, Yee Haw!” Even though she startled me again, I tried not to gap this time, so I said “I’m Mimi.” “No, you’re not” she denied. I was pretty sure of my own name and told her so. “No, you’re not” she said again and added “You’re Cowgirl Mininose!”
I raised my eyebrows and gapped again. I didn’t even know this strange girl in a costume and she already mocked my small nose. It was true my nose was a bit smaller than others, but that didn’t give her the right to give me a nickname like that right after we met! Before I had the chance to rebuke her, though, she asked “What are you doing here?” I frowned at her, showing that I was upset, but remembered my mom saying that we should always be nice to everyone even when you’re going to dismiss them “I was reading a book” and I lifted the book to her “it is very good and I think I’ll spend the afternoon reading today.” It was a very dull book actually, but I just wanted her to understand my dismissal. “No, that’s no it!” She said and moved her hand in front of her face as if to shoo away my last statement.
I have to say that during my first encounter with Cowgirl Angel I felt very annoyed that she kept denying the things I said! How silly of me. How little did I know about how much she knows!
She asked again “What were you really doing here before I found you?” I looked at her annoyed and puzzled at the same time. Then I thought for a moment and answered “I guess… I was waiting for something to happen.”
She didn’t deny anything this time. On the contrary, she smiled a broad smile at me, showing all her white teeth and the one dimple that she has on her right side. For some reason I didn’t understand, I felt happy with that smile, like I had finally gotten the right answer to a riddle. Still smiling she said “Well, something just happened” and she reached out to me, inviting me to take her hand and go with her. “But go where?”, I asked myself.
My nose itched again before I took her hand.
Chapter 2 – The Wild Wild West
Everything was white for a moment after I touched her hand and it took me a while to understand that I was being blinded by the sun. It was suddenly so bright!
“That’s why you need a hat, you know?” she told me while I squinted trying to adjust my eyes. “Now that I look at you properly, you need to change that outfit right away!”
When my eyes were finally able to see something I didn’t see our lawn or my street or the trees and houses in my neighborhood. All I saw was the orange brown sand of a desert stretching for miles in all directions with some lonely mountains in the distance. Some cactuses stood tall with their spikes defying the burning sun.
I was so confused! “Where am I?!” “In the Wild Wild West, of course” Cowgirl Angel answered making it sound so obvious. “But how did we get here?!” “But how could we not be here in the first place? The Wild Wild West is here, there, everywhere!” That didn’t really help me understand anything at all.
She continued, though, leaving me with one billion question marks in my head. “We need to get to town fast, so walking is not an option. Let’s ride Sandy Dust together.” I was about to ask who that was when she whistled really loud. For a moment nothing happened and I thought whatever she had tried to do hadn’t worked, but then she pointed and said “Ah, there he comes!” In the distance, all I could see was dust. A wall of dust moving towards us and moving fast! Only when it got much closer was I able to see what was coming in the middle of all that dust: a beautiful sandy yellow horse! What a sight! You could barely see it from a distance because it was the color of the sand. It slowed down and stopped right next to Cowgirl Angel who looked so small close to the horse. She petted the animal tenderly and I could see their mutual care for one another.
She turned to me and said “This is Sandy Dust, the fastest horse you will ever ride! Hop on and let’s get you some proper clothes!” With the ability of a gymnast she climbed on the horse and reached out to help me up. “Hold on” I said. I had too many questions to simply hop on the back of her horse like that. “What about my house? Where did it go? Is this like a magical place? Am I trapped here? Will I ever go home? How did you…” “Wow, hold your horses! I’m already dizzy with so many questions! First of all, of course the Wild Wild West is a magical place. It’s the place for big adventures! Second of all, you’re talking nonsense! Trapped here?! Of course not, silly girl! You can go home in time for your snack if you want, but I seriously doubt you’ll even remember snack time. Now just hop on and let’s get to town!”
I was still unsure about everything, but the sun was starting to boil my brain so I decided to get her ride. Climbing on Sandy Dust was harder for me, even though I was taller than her, but I managed and she told me “Hold on tight if you don’t want to fall! Yeeeeee Haaaaaw!” I barely had time to find a position to hold her and the horse was already flying like the wind! I looked behind us and that wall of dust was there again, but all I could feel was the strong wind in my face. In no time at all I started to see the outlines of houses, wagons, animals and people and we started to slow down.
As we entered the town on the main street, people greeted Cowgirl Angel happily, waving and lifting their hats. She responded smiling and nodding. “Everyone here seems to know you”, I noticed. “That tends to happen after you saved the town as many times as I have” she answered with no false modesty. “Ah, there it is, The Red Girl, the finest place for a cowgirl to get decent clothes!” The place had a modest wooden sign on the front with large block letters and the carving of a girl’s face half hidden by a hat.
When we got there, the owner, a skinny lady with tanned skin and brown hair tightly tied up in a ponytail smiled broadly at Cowgirl Angel and greeted her happily. The two of them talked like good old friends for a moment and then Cowgirl Angel introduced me “And this is my friend, Cowgirl Mininose. She needs to get the proper attire if you know what I mean.” She shook her head with a reproachful look at my clothes. I looked at myself and didn’t know what she saw wrong with the white shirt, black tights and tennis shoes I was wearing. The owner seemed to agree with her, though, and together the two of them picked checkered shirts, flowered dresses, jeans, hats, boots and belts for me to try on. I tried pointing out that I was fine with my clothes and maybe just a hat to protect my head would be enough, but they didn’t even seem to listen.
I tried on my favorite among their picks and when I finally came to a decision I remembered that I didn’t have any money with me. I called Cowgirl Angel to a side and told her that I couldn’t get any of that without going home first to ask my mom for some money. She dismissed that as nonsense again (everything I said seemed to be nonsense!) and told the owner what I had just said. The lady in the ponytail laughed and explained, “For Cowgirl Angel and her friends, everything in this town is free sale!” “Free sale?” I asked confused. “Whatever she needs is free of charge!” She answered with a smile. I felt embarrassed to accept that, but they made me take the clothes anyway and I must admit that I felt really cute in cowgirl clothes. Since I thought we might ride again, I chose a pair of jeans, a midnight blue long sleeve shirt, pointy leather boots and a big pretty hat that I loved right away.
“Now you finally look like a cowgirl!” Cowgirl Angel said and soon added “Time to get to work!” “Work? What do you mean work?” “You didn’t think that the life of a cowgirl in the Wild Wild West was all fun, did you?” “Well, I didn’t think about the life of a cowgirl at all, to be true with you. What do you do?” “She protects the town, that’s what she does!”, the owner of the store answered. “Whenever any bad guys come around or there’s any kind of trouble in town, Cowgirl Angel and her friends come to our aid. So, I’m guessing Calamity Jane called you again, Cowgirl Angel?” “Yeah, she did. I’m going there now to see what’s going on.”
We then said our good-byes and I thanked the lady immensely for the clothes. As we got on our way to see this Calamity Jane, on foot this time, Sandy Dust following behind us, I asked Cowgirl Angel to tell me more about her job. “Well, it’s just like my friend told you. If there’s any kind of trouble or threat to the town, I help them.” “Isn’t it dangerous for a girl like you?” “Nonsense! Danger is afraid of me! I could take care of myself ever since I was 4 years old! I’m already 9. Besides, watch this” And she disappeared!
I was so shocked I squealed. And then she was back again cracking up at my face. “What was that?!” I asked astonished. “I can disappear if I want to” She answered as if it were no big deal. “That comes in handy when dealing with some outlaws…” She added in a more somber tone and I confess I got chills when she said that.
“Who’s Calamity Jane?” I asked remembering the person we were supposed to meet. “She’s the sheriff” Cowgirl Angel answered “and you’re going to meet her right now ‘cause she’s right there.” She was pointing at the swinging doors of the local saloon where a woman was coming out holding two men by the ears. “And tell me tomorrow if spending a night in jail will not be enough to sober your goofy selves up!” She yelled at the two men, who walked bent and whining beside her. “Ah, Cowgirl Angel! You’re here already. Good! Come with me to the office and I’ll tell you what’s going on after I lock these silly bandits up!”
We followed the sheriff to the police station, which wasn’t that far and Cowgirl Angel showed me some places and people on the way. “That’s One Foot Mike over there, he repairs shoes and boots if you need, but watch out ‘cause he will sometimes put thorns in your soles to prick your feet!” “But why does he do that? And why would people still go to him?” “Well, he does that because he’s mean. I’ve put him in jail myself a couple of times, and people go to him ‘cause he’s the only shoemaker in town!”
“That place right there is the Delicious Restaurant. You have never had yummier food!” She said pointing at a cute looking establishment with some red ribbons on the porch.
“If you turn on the corner right there, you’ll see the money well. It used to be a wishing well a long long time ago, but it got so full of coins that now we use it as a sort of common piggy bank for everyone! If someone needs extra change they go there and get some pennies!”
And then we got to our destination. I knew we were there because you could see a sign outside saying “Sheriff’s Office and Town Jail”. The sheriff told us to wait in her office while she took the two guys to a cell in the back.
There was a cute miniature wooden pony on her desk, but the pictures on the wall really called my attention. Lots and lots of “Wanted” posters! I saw a poster of a fierce looking Indian called Red Dark Feathers and another of a guy called Boom Tree and, even though it was just a drawing, I must say that he did look like a weird tree. A toothless man frowned at me from another poster – Toothless Ted, it read.
Calamity Jane came back before I had the chance to check any others closely and went straight to business. “Well, Young Buzz is locking those two up for me. He’s my new deputy, by the way. Let’s leave him to it and get to work. Cowgirl Angel you haven’t introduced your friend to me yet!” “This is Cowgirl Mininose, Sheriff” Cowgirl Angel answered right away. As I said “Nice to meet you” I realized I was starting to get used to the name.
“Another Cowgirl? Good! ‘Cause I think you might need the help for this one. The vegetables on the Fertile Farm are disappearing mysteriously! Dinah Delicious is going out of her wits and driving me nuts! She comes here every day complaining that more vegetables are gone and that we have to find the ones responsible quick! So, that’s why I called you here” she said not stopping to catch any breath. She had quite a strong southern accent and sounded like someone you do not want to mess with.
I looked at Cowgirl Angel and she looked furious! “How dare anyone steal from the Fertile Farm?! They grow the vegetables that go on the most delicious dishes in all the Wild Wild West! No one messes with the Delicious Restaurant! I’m going to kick their butt! You should have called me even earlier, Sheriff” “But I did! You were out of town. I think you’d gone to the White Duck Lake” “Oh, thorny cactus! Let’s just go and see the farm now! I want to solve this mystery before dinner time!” and she stood up and left.
I had to run after her. Sandy Dust was already waiting outside and I bet he knew he was needed. That was a smart horse! I held my hat tight on my head with one hand and grabbed Cowgirl Angel with the other, trying to keep my balance as we rode even faster than before if that were possible.
Staying on the horse took all my concentration, so I didn’t say anything, but as soon as we got down and I was safely touching the firm ground I asked her “Where are we?” We had left the town behind and all I saw now was a gate that led to prairies and fields of corn and other plants. Cowgirl Angel still looked quite upset as she answered, “We’re at the entrance to the Fertile Farm, it produces the most bestest yummy veggies in all the Wild Wild West. The Delicious family owns it and the Delicious Restaurant too.” “You mentioned the Delicious Restaurant before. Was it that pretty one with the ribbons that we saw on our way to the Sheriff’s office?” “Yes, that’s the one and someone is really looking for trouble if…” She stopped suddenly, put her hand up to silence me and looked very serious. What a mysterious face she made. And again my nose itched uncontrollably! I tried rubbing it discretely, but Cowgirl Angel noticed it and said “You feel it too, Cowgirl Mininose? There’s trouble on the way!”
I couldn’t hear anything but the soft sound of a breeze ruffling the leaves on the field ahead. Cowgirl Angel still held that serious mysterious face as we both walked through the open gate and looked around and through the fields searching for something we both felt but couldn’t see. We walked a few steps on the road, with corn on both our sides and then she disappeared.
Good thing she had showed me that trick before, so I didn’t have a heart attack this time, but I still jumped two feet back startled. I tried calling her softly, but got no answer. A couple of long minutes passed before she called my name. From behind me! I jumped two feet forward this time.
“You scared me! Where have you been?” “I was looking around, trying to find the cause of our suspicions. I found some marks on the ground that look like feet. They might be what we are looking for. Let’s talk to Dinah first and then we’ll follow that trail.” Before I could ask who Dinah was, I saw a grey dotted horse coming our way. Riding the horse was a girl in a flowered red dress. She wore a hat with a big red ribbon on it and long thick brown braids hanging on her shoulders. She waved at us and got of the horse even before it came to a full stop.
“Cowgirl Angel, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, am I glad to see you!” “Hello, Dinah! Let’s not waste time, just tell me what’s going on here” “Cowgirl Angel, you gotta catch these accursed thieves! My daddy is sick to his heart, my mom weeps all day and the food she cooks is getting salty with her tears, and I am just going mad with all the vegetables that go missing every day! It started with the cabbages, then the carrots, then the beets, then the squashes, then the onions, then the potatoes, than the radishes, then the cucumbers, then the pumpkins, then the lettuce, then the peas, then the…” “Ok, Dinah, we got the picture! But what else did you notice?” “…then the corn. The corn has been the most recent victim, poor thing!” And she touched the closest cornstalk, caressing it. “The only other thing I can tell you and your friend (hello, I’m Dinah, by the way!) is that whoever it is that’s doing this, is very sneaky! We never found more than footprints. And we also suspect they are more than one, because too many vegetables disappear at once for it to be only one culprit!” “Well, Dinah, I figured that out already just by looking at the footprints! Cowgirl Mininose, what are you doing?”
I wasn’t doing anything! But Dinah Delicious’ mare had been poking my shoulder with her soft nose and sniffing at me, so I was only trying to push her nose away from me. “Aw, she likes ya! Dottie Lou likes your friend, Cowgirl Angel!” said Dinah. “Well, that’s all very nice and cute, but we got work to do. Come on, Cowgirl Mininose. Let’s look for more clues!”
And so we started following Dinah around the farm. She showed us every crop that had been attacked and we met the Delicious family, mom, dad and dog (called Yummy). They sure liked talking. It was difficult for Cowgirl Angel and I to leave the main house because they each wanted to tell us details about all the problems that had come up after the vegetables started disappearing. Even Yummy, the dog, dragged us around showing all the bones that were now exposed because the patches of vegetables that used to hide them were gone!
We spent so long talking to them that it was already lunchtime and we ended up sharing a meal with them. Dinah was right, though. Her mom’s food was really salty. I felt bad knowing the reason why the food was salty. I hoped we could truly help this family. After lunch, we set off to investigate the fields by ourselves. Cowgirl Angel kept that serious face for most of the time. She was really focused!
We had been looking unsuccessfully for a while, when she turned to me and said “Knock knock.” I had been concentrating so hard on the ground, looking for prints that I got confused for a second, so she repeated “Knock knock!” “Oh! I see… Ahh, who’s there?” I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but I decided to tag along. “Lettuce” “Is this a joke or are we talking about the vegetables?” “The vegetables reminded me of this! Just say the question.” “Ok… Lettuce who?” “Lettuce see who’s the culprit!” And she started laughing hard at her own joke. I laughed with her.
Not long after that she said it again “Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Spell” “Spell who?” “W.H.O!” We laughed our socks off again.
We kept walking around looking for clues, but all the while we played. “Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Baby owl” “Baby owl who?” “Baby owl see you later, maybe I won’t!”
“Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Interrupting cow” “Interrupting…” “MOOOOO!”
We were laughing so hard already that I had tears in my eyes. After I calmed down, Cowgirl Angel looked at me over her shoulder and said “There’s no sense in being a cowgirl if you don’t have some fun on the way, right?”
I was about to agree with her, when my nose itched and something caught my eye. It seemed like a simple stick at first but as I looked again, I saw that it was actually a slingshot. I bent down to pick it up and Cowgirl Angel bent next to me. “Did you find anything?” “Maybe” I said. As I turned the slingshot in my hands we saw three letters carved on the wood: B.E.J.
“Whose do you think this is?” I asked. Cowgirl Angel gave me a broad smile and answered “I don’t know yet, but I feel that you found our first clue!”
We went immediately back to the main house and showed The Deliciouses the slingshot with the initials B.E.J. None of them knew who it belonged to or what those 3 letters meant. Even though we didn’t have answers yet, the simple fact that we found our first clue brightened the spirits of all the members of that family. I couldn’t help but smiling when I saw that Mrs. Delicious wasn’t crying anymore and lifted her face up hopefully.
“Alright, folks. I’m pretty sure that this is a clue, so we’re taking this to Calamity Jane to see if she has any thoughts on it. If you remember anything, and I really mean anything, send the Sheriff a message.”
On our way out of the house, they took one last look at the slingshot and even let Yummy sniff at it, but the dog showed no sign of recognition. Cowgirl Angel then whistled to Sandy Dust who came right away and we set off to see Calamity Jane.
The Sheriff saw us in her office again and Young Buzz, her deputy, was there this time. We showed them the slingshot and they asked about B.E.J., of course, but we had no answers.
“Maybe it stands for Bone Etching Jeremy. He gave this town the shivers a few years ago” said Calamity Jane shivering a little herself. “No, I don’t think it’s him. I took him to the Chinooks back then and they promised to keep him way from us. I trust them” Cowgirl Angel replied. “Maybe we should ask them just in case”, the Sheriff said, taking notes. I just wondered how old Cowgirl Angel was when she caught a villain called Bone Etching Jeremy! Wasn’t she scared? She was really something!
“Well, how about Bumbling Egg Juggler?” asked Young Buzz. “In jail. I got the news from the Sheriff in Hazetown. Apparently he thought it would be fun to toss eggs at people instead of just juggling and got arrested for it.”
Everyone thought for a while. I remembered something but was too embarrassed to say it. It wasn’t a person so I didn’t think it had anything to do with it.
“Beautiful Ettie Jane is your cousin, isn’t she, Sheriff?” asked Cowgirl Angel. “Yeah, but she’s too girly to even touch a slingshot. Besides, she’s a good girl. I don’t see how she could be involved. But I remembered someone else. Bobo Edge Jumper.” “Nah, he jumped his last not long ago” answered Young Buzz, shaking his head mournfully “Poor Bobo. He was a nice guy and a good inventor. Too bad his flying machines never worked. Till the end no one could stop him from trying.”
Cowgirl Angel snapped her fingers suddenly remembering someone else “Bernard Evan James! Of course! How could I forget him? That snobbish fellow that came here last year and complained about the food at the Delicious Restaurant. I always thought he was actually jealous of their tasty food! I bet he’s the one behind it!”
Young Buzz liked the idea and looked excited. I had never heard of any of those people, so I just sit there and listened. Calamity Jane, however, seemed doubtful. “Maybe… I just don’t see him holding a slingshot. I remember him and as you said, he was very snobbish. His nose was always pointing up! But, you’re right, he does have a name that fits, so I guess he is our first suspect. I’ll try to find out where he is.”
Our first suspect! I couldn’t help but get excited too. What if Cowgirl Angel was right and this guy did want to harm the Delicious Restaurant because he was jealous? Stealing their vegetables was certainly a way to cause them a lot of trouble.
We were about to leave the Sheriff’s office when Dinah Delicious stormed into the room shouting our names. “Cowgirl Angel! Sheriff Jane! Cowgirl Mininose! Young Buzz! Everyone!” She got in huffing and puffing with excitement, her arm stretched and a small leather pouch in her hand. “Yummy!” We looked puzzled because the pouch didn’t look particularly tasty to any of us. Catching her breath she explained herself. “Our dog, Yummy found this! Not long after you guys left, he started sniffing the air like crazy and ran from crop to crop, not listening to us at all even when we tried to keep up with him, but he was going too fast and into the high stalks so we couldn’t follow him until he finally came out holding this in his mouth and all excited so we knew he had found something and I got Dottie Lou right away and came here flying on her hooves to show you guys what he found!” She was speaking so fast I could barely keep up with her! She breathed for a second and continued “There are only rocks inside, I don’t know why, but the best part is this!” and she turned the little bag in her hand and showed us what the best part was. Burned on the leather were the letters W.E.J.
More initials! We all looked at each other. On one hand this was good news because it was a new clue, but on the other hand it cleared Cowgirl Angel’s suspect. Those initials didn’t match his name.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Cowgirl Angel cried in frustration “And now what? When I finally thought I had figured out the letters on the slingshot, more letters come up!” “Well, bad guys don’t want to be caught, Cowgirl. You know that” said Calamity Jane taking the little leather pouch in her hands. “W.E.J. Time to start thinking again, I guess!”
Dinah was definitely the most excited person in the room. The prospects of having the mystery finally solved and having peace in her farm again were lightening her spirit, she said. She said she would go back home and keep an eye on Yummy to see if he would find anything else, or at least that’s all I could get out of her fast speech.
Cowgirl Angel said she couldn’t sit still in the office again, she had to move. So we decided to go to the local saloon and try to think there. The Sheriff said she and Young Buzz had to stay in the office, but that we should keep in touch with each other.
We left with Dinah, who apologized for not inviting us to go to the Delicious Restaurant, since the food wasn’t so delicious right now. We told her not to worry and I added “I think we’re about to solve this case, Dinah. Don’t worry.” “Do you really think so?” she asked with a hopeful sigh. I thought for a second, rubbed my nose gently and answered “I just feel it, Dinah!” She smiled, thanked me for helping and left on her beautiful mare.
Sandy Dust was there too, ready as always (what an amazing horse he was!), but Cowgirl Angel just petted him and we started walking towards the saloon.
“Is it true what you said? Do you feel that we’re close to solving the mystery?” She asked me. “Yes, I can’t explain it. I just know it!” “I believe you. This is the Wild Wild West after all. The place where mysterious things happen and don’t need an explanation, they just are the way they are!”
We soon reached the saloon and Cowgirl Angel asked for some cactus juice and two glasses. “And don’t you dare clean the glasses with spit!” she added with a glare to the bartender.
She took me to the left corner of the saloon where they had a game of darts and we started talking while she threw darts on the target. Now, let me tell you one thing about that game of hers. It was impossibly amazing! She had five darts to throw. The first dart she threw, hit the center, right in the bullseye. The second one, hit the first dart right in the butt and just stayed there. The other darts just did the same thing, so, at the end she had all five darts in the bullseye, one after another. How could she do that!? I was astonished again.
While I gapped at her game, we discussed the matter of the initials. “Are there any bad guys that match the new initials, W.E.J.? Maybe someone is working with that Bernard guy you were talking about”, I suggested. “It’s possible… Wanted Evelyn Jingles is the only outlaw I can remember and she did have a fight with Dinah once because Dinah didn’t let Evelyn jingle her bells in the Delicious Restaurant. I don’t know. My guts tell me she’s not the one, though.” And she threw darts again.
Our cactus juice arrived soon and even though I was unsure at first if I should try it, it turned out to be quite good and refreshing! It was the perfect drink for that hot dry weather. We both asked for a refill right away.
“I don’t get it! It’s so frustrating! The more I think about those letters and the pouch with rocks or the slingshot, the madder I get! Who are these guys? What names are we missing?”, she asked frustrated. I felt like my hands were tied. I didn’t know how to help.
“I really wish I could help somehow, but all I can think of is food” “What? You’re hungry? Ask the bartender for something.” “That’s not it” I said, shaking my head. “It’s just that my dad has a sort of weird taste for food and one of his favorite dishes is a salad he makes with broccoli, eggplant and jalapeños. Broccoli, Eggplant, Jalapeños. Got it? B.E.J. That’s what he calls it. So, when we were in the Sheriff’s office earlier, that’s all I could think of”
“Wow, that is one weird salad… It sounds like something the quintuplets would run away from!” She started to laugh but suddenly gasped and yelled “THAT’S IT!!!” She turned to me and said “I know the answer!”
Without any explanation, Cowgirl Angel pulled me by the arm and took me running out of the saloon, whistling on the way out to call her horse. We mounted on Sandy Dust and flew to the Sheriff’s office, leaving that wall of dust behind us. But the horse was so fast, that we had barely mounted and we were already there!
I was itching with curiosity to know what Cowgirl Angel had figured out. Had she remembered some detail we overlooked? Had she come up with a theory? Had she found a new clue? Had she solved the mystery? I held all my questions, though, because I knew she would explain everything once we were with Calamity Jane, so I forced myself to be patient.
“Sheriff! I know who the culprit is!”, she said as soon as we entered the small room with the wanted posters and the Sheriff’s desk, where Calamity Jane and Young Buzz were working together.
The Sheriff looked up surprised, but satisfied. “Music to my ears! What’s your theory, Cowgirl?” “It’s no theory, Sheriff. I’m 100% sure of it! The culprits are the five skinniest brats in the Wild Wild West!” The Sheriff’s face lit up with understanding after two seconds. Young Buzz took three seconds. And me? Well, I didn’t understand anything!
“The quintuplets, of course!” said Calamity Jane. “The Joe brothers, obviously!” said Young Buzz. Cowgirl Angel smiled broadly, looking quite satisfied at her insight! She said “You bet! It was actually something Cowgirl Mininose said that made me understand it all!” Did she say me? I looked confused as she went on. “She mentioned some salad that could go with the acronym B.E.J. and I immediately thought of the Joe quintuplets! We hadn’t thought about them because they’re not really outlaws, they’re just kids! But it has got to be them, the boot fits them perfectly!”
Calamity Jane stood up and walked around the table to stay by our side saying “You are right, Cowgirl Angel! The slingshot must belong to Bad Eater Joe and the pouch to Worse Eater Joe!” “Yeah, and now that we’re talking about them, I remember Worse Eater Joe having a slingshot too. He probably used the pouch to keep his rocks!” added Young Buzz next to me. He continued, “Actually, all the Joe’s have slingshots. I’ve seen them hunting birds with those several times. They make their own slingshots, so I bet the other Joe’s have slingshots with their initials too!”
“Sheriff, we should find them and compare their slingshots to the one we found!” said Cowgirl Angel and Calamity Jane nodded in agreement.
I was listening very carefully and started to get curious about one thing. “They’re quintuplets, right? If one is Bad Eater Joe and the other is Worse Eater Joe, what are the other three called? And why did their parents give them these names?!”
The others gave short laughs and Young Buzz answered “Those are not their real names, of course. It’s just that since they were born they give their mom so much trouble to eat, that they ended up getting these nicknames and now, nobody can remember their real names anymore!”
“They all got nicknames like that: Bad Eater Joe, Worse Eater Joe, Even Worse Eater Joe, Terrible Eater Joe and Mysterious Eater Joe” listed Cowgirl Angel. “Mysterious Eater Joe?” I asked. “That’s because no one knows what the little brat eats!” Calamity Jane answered.
“So, when are we going, Sheriff?” Cowgirl Angel got back to business. “I think we should visit their home right now. Even if they’re not there, we can talk to their mother.” The Sheriff said getting her hat and going to the door. We all followed and hopped on our horses.
Once we got to their house, a little far off to the edge of the town, we saw a woman hanging sheets on a clothesline, their mother, and approached her getting off the horses. “Sheriff Jane? Cowgirl Angel? Oh, my! What a pleasure!” the woman said.
“Afternoon, Betsy. We’re here to talk to the boys, actually. Are they home?” The Sheriff said, standing very serious with her hat on her head and her hands on her hips. “The boys? Oh, my! What did they do now? Not another prank, I hope!” “Well, we’re still investigating, Betsy, but if we’re right, it was much worse than a prank. So, are they here?”
But just as the Sheriff was talking to the concerned lady, my nosed itched on the left side at the same time that Cowgirl Angel pointed in the same direction and shouted: “There they go!” The quintuplets were trying to sneak past our group to hide in their barn. They were a skinny bunch that didn’t look older than Cowgirl Angel! When they heard her shout, though, they ran as fast as coyotes!
Cowgirl Angel pulled me by the arm and said “Come on, Cowgirl Mininose! Time to catch the culprits!” I ran beside her and I swear I never felt as excited in my life! A real chase! We ran side by side and when we reached the front of the barn, we saw the boys going out the back door! We started running again and on the way, Cowgirl Angel grabbed some rope and did something to it as if she were tying a knot. I wondered what she was doing, but whatever it was, we didn’t slow our pace. The boys were still some 50 feet ahead of us.
She then handed me the rope and said “Here, help me lasso them!” “What?! I don’t know how to use a lasso!” “We don’t have time for this, Mininose! Just swing the lasso above your head, say Yee haw and throw it in the direction you want! Come on! Yeeeeeeeeeeeee Haaaaawwwwwwwwww!” she said, throwing her own lasso up.
I wasn’t sure that would work, but I tried my best to follow her lead and yelled a modest “Yeee Haaawww!” as we swung our lassos above our heads. The boys started to spread out as soon as they heard us and I knew it was time to act. I threw my lasso in the direction of the boy running to the left and to my own disbelief I caught him! I pulled the lasso as hard as I could and we both fell on the ground. I got up quickly and ran towards him to make sure he wouldn’t escape! When I reached him he started to wriggle and shout “Let me go! Let me go!”, but I only pulled the lasso tighter. I caught him! HA! I couldn’t describe how great that felt!
I looked at Cowgirl Angel and my jaw fell yet again: she had caught the other four boys all at the same time and was pulling them by the lasso back to the house. She was truly something, that Cowgirl Angel! I still had a lot to learn!
We took the five boys back to the house and I finally got the chance to look at them properly. They looked exactly the same! Wow! Apart from their clothes and the dirt they got on their attempted escape, there was nothing to tell them apart, at least not that I could see.
They were now tied up to the couch in the living room and their mom was red as a tomato out of anger or shame or both, I wasn’t sure. “Boys… BOYS! The Sheriff told me her suspicions and I need to know: did you steal the vegetables from the Fertile Farm? Tell the truth, now!”
The boys, who I was told were actually 11 years old like me (they really were a skinny bunch!), looked at each other first and than nodded all together in perfect synchrony. Their mom put her hand in her chest and almost lost balance, but Young Buzz helped her sit down on a chair. “Why?” she asked shakily.
The boy in the middle answered bluntly “We hate vegetables. We figured that if you wouldn’t stop giving us vegetables everyday, we had to attack the source. If there were no vegetables to buy, we wouldn’t have to eat them anymore! That simple.”
Everyone was a bit shocked at their blunt honesty. They didn’t seem to feel ashamed enough for what they had done. Cowgirl Angel however, seemed like she was about to explode! I moved one step away from her, just in case, but she was only mad at them. “You silly, appetiteless, treacherous, food stealing, selfish rats! How could you do something like that? Have you any idea the despair you caused the Delicious family and the fans of the Delicious Restaurant? Not to mention the daily diet of the whole town! I’m gonna take you to jail right now!” Calamity Jane had to hold Cowgirl Angel because she was trying to hit the quintuplets.
Young Buzz assisted their mother, who looked like she was about to faint and the boys cowed into a bundle under Cowgirl Angel’s outburst. “What about the vegetables? What did you do to them?” the Sheriff asked letting go of Cowgirl Angel, who was taking deep breaths to calm down, but seemed to be having trouble to do so. The boys looked at each other one more time and the one on the right corner said “Tell them, Mysterious.” The one on the opposite corner said looking at the Sheriff “We didn’t throw them away! I know a secret place not too far from the Fertile Farm, an abandoned granary. We took all the vegetables there. We were going to let the wild animals eat them, but I think they’re still all there!”
“They had better be!” said a calmer and quite menacing Cowgirl Angel.
Everything happened really fast after that. The boys took us to the granary where they had hidden the vegetables and fortunately most of it was still in perfect condition.
The Delicious family was so happy to see the mystery finally solved that they announced a grand reopening party at the Delicious Restaurant and invited the whole town!
The boys didn’t go to jail. After hours of discussion between the Joes, the Deliciouses and the Sheriff, they all decided that to repair their crime, the boys would have to work for free for the Deliciouses during an entire year, either replanting the vegetables at the Fertile Farm or helping out at the Delicious Restaurant. They didn’t like the prospect of handling vegetables for a year, but recognized that their fate was their own fault.
As for me, I was officially recognized by the town as a Cowgirl sworn to protect the people and living creatures of the Wild Wild West! I was a little embarrassed but extremely happy! And I couldn’t believe it when the Deliciouses said they had a present for me for helping solve the case.
“She liked you from the beginning! So, we can’t think of a better way to thank you for helping us than giving you Dottie Lou!” I tried telling them that it wasn’t necessary, but they insisted!
The gray dotted mare came to me and poked me with her soft nose. I must confess that she was a really sweet horse and I was glad to have her. I just thought the Deliciouses had done more than they needed!
Cowgirl Angel, deservedly, was the big hero and was carried by a crowd of people to the Delicious Restaurant for a special surprise: as a gift for her invaluable services, the Deliciouses hung a full size picture of Cowgirl Angel on the wall with the saying “Say Yee Haw to our town hero!” Not only that but they had a huge angel cake prepared just for her!
It was a great feast! I couldn’t believe everything that had happened to me that day! I looked out and saw that the sun was almost completely set on the horizon. My heart felt tight knowing that I had to leave.
“Come, I’ll walk you home.” Cowgirl Angel said startling me one last time that day. I hadn’t seen her approaching, of course. “I told you that you wouldn’t even remember snack time!” We laughed because we both knew that was true and that I’d rather stay longer if I could.
We sneaked out of the restaurant, because if we didn’t, I’d probably take forever to leave! Together we rode Dottie Lou and Sandy Dust slowly towards the wishing well. I wished I had a coin to throw at the overflowing well and wish I could come back to the Wild Wild West soon.
Night had spread the dark in the streets of that little Wild Wild West town and oil lamps were being lit. We reached a corner not far from the well and Cowgirl Angel stopped. We dismounted our horses and she got Dottie Lou’s reigns. “She’ll be better off here in the Wild Wild West. Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of her for you.”
I wanted to thank her for the amazing adventure we had, for letting me be part of that fantastic world, for letting me try cactus juice, for helping me become a real Cowgirl! But I couldn’t express my gratitude in words, so I just hugged her really hard and this time she was the one to get surprised!
She hugged me back and held my hand as we turned the corner of an old house and I saw the lights of my own street. My house was no more than 100 feet away from us. I looked at her one last time that day and she was already heading back her way.
I said “Goodbye, Cowgirl Angel!” She turned slightly and said “Oh, but this is not farewell, Cowgirl Mininose” and she smiled mysteriously walking into the darkness.